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On the Origins of the Genetic Lineage of the Rurikids as an Issue not Related to the “Normanist Problem”

[Proiskhozhdenie geneticheskoi linii Riurikovichei: nezavisimost’ ot “normanskoi problemy”]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150016704‑4

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 21.09.2020

Accepted: 17.06.2021

About author(s)

Oleg Balanovsky | http://orcid.org/0000‑0003‑4218‑6889 | balanovsky@inbox.ru | Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences (3 Gubkin Str., Moscow, GSP‑1, 119991, Russia)

Keywords

Rurikids, Rus’, origins, genetic genealogy, population genetics, haplogroup, Y‑chromosome

Abstract

The article critically examines G.V. Dzibel’s arguments about the origin of ethnonym Rus’ and the origins of the Rurikids dynasty. Most of the present-day representatives of this dynasty are believed to have a common biological ancestor who supposedly lived some 1000 years ago, which accords with historical chronicles. I address the question about movements of carriers of this Y-chromosome lineage during three millennia from the Ural area across the East European Plain, including the further expansion of the haplogroup N3a3 to the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, migration of some subclades of the haplogroup to Scandinavia, and the subsequent return of the Rurikids to the area lying to the east of the Baltic Sea. The basis of the “Western Baltic” hypothesis, pointing to the Scandinavian origins of the Rurikids’ ancestors, is that it is in Scandinavia that we find the presence of genetic lineages that seem to be closest to the Rurikids. The “Eastern Baltic” hypothesis, which is favored by G.V. Dzibel, argues, to the contrary, about the origin of the Rurikids in the areas to the east of the Baltic Sea. The “Western Baltic” hypothesis is more in line with the data available to us; however, the “Eastern Baltic” hypothesis cannot be rejected off-hand. The preliminary results of studying the DNA of early Rurikids show that there might have been carriers of other genetic lineages among them; if true, this will make the task of interpretation of the matter more complicated. In any case, it is still unclear to me whether connecting the origins of the ruling dynasty (a biological process) with the origins of statehood in ancient Rus’ (a historical process) is scientifically warranted.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants: Russian Foundation for Basic Research, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100002261 [20‑09‑00479]

Citation

Balanovsky, O.P. 2021. On the Origins of the Genetic Lineage of the Rurikids as an Issue not Related to the “Normanist Problem” [Proiskhozhdenie geneticheskoi linii Riurikovichei: nezavisimost’ ot “normanskoi problemy”]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 4: 118–130. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150016704‑4

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